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My thoughts on Excedrin’s “What Does a Migraine Feel Like?” video

Many of you have likely seen the Excedrin-produced video called “What Does a Migraine Feel Like? – The Excedrin Migraine Experience.” It was covered by multiple news outlets in early April 2016, and, if you’re like me and get migraine-related “recommended” headlines on your Facebook page, you saw it there as well.  First off, I want to thank the folks who are behind the new video that Excedrin produced, the one where migraine suffers used virtual reality to show their loved ones what an attack is like for them.  You know me: I appreciate any steps we migraineurs can take to educate those without the illness, and I definitely focus a lot of my writing on the symptoms that aren’t pain-related. For those reasons and many more, I am thankful for this new campaign, and for the similar campaign that was done in June 2015 overseas (“The World’s First Migraine Simulator”).

But (you knew there’d be a but) I have my reservations. Wait, that’s not the word.  It’s more like a list of wishes or what-ifs.  I know that any campaign can’t be all things to all people, and due to the length of the commercial (because that’s what it is, at its heart, and that’s okay!), it would be impossible to accommodate my wishes. I’ll leave my personal experiences about Excedrin Migraine out of this (it works for many lucky people, and for that I’m glad).

That said, here’s what I would love to see incorporated next time:

1. a male patient

2. a mention or depiction of migraines that don’t start with aura (i.e., migraine without aura)

3. a mention of other sensations that accompany migraine for many people, including noise and odor sensitivity

4. some way to mimic the physical pain of a bad migraine (okay, that’d probably be torture and highly illegal, but those of you who’ve read my articles over the years know I want everyone to just have one bad migraine, just once!)

5. some way to mimic the nausea (the visual auras depicted in the virtual reality videos of course made people dizzy, but man oh man, the nausea I get during certain attacks has nothing on those visual disturbances)

Now that I’ve written out the above list, I realize how Migraine-Girl-centric it is.  It’s obvious to me now that what I want is a video I can share with my loved ones (and hey, strangers, too!) showing what one of my attacks is like.  Then I’d like to share a virtual reality video of what my next attack is like, and then the next–because, like many of you, my migraines change day to day and year to year and attack to attack.

If you could create a virtual reality machine that would show non-migraineurs what a typical attack is like for you, what would you include? Describe your video/experience and then tell us the top people you’d want to share it with.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • DJStolle
    4 years ago

    I want them to have a Spinal Tap Headache. The pain that comes after having a spinal tap start leaking and you loose fluid. I had a spinal tap during a Migraine and the pain is similar. I like the idea of ipecac syrup also. Even if they don’t vomit, it will make them nauseous. Then take a cord and tie it around their head for the skin crawling feeling that can come with the migraine. I love the term “Mind Mush” that is so true. The symptoms that can morph and change. It is a problem that you NEVER want to wish on someone, but… for them to take the “Migraine Ride” at some point in their lives to give some understanding, that I could do.

  • Star71
    4 years ago

    I despise the Excedrin commercial. ..
    It doesn’t truly explain what a migraine is really like, just the aura…
    Put a needle in her skull, then she’ll know the true affects…
    Give her epicack (sp?) syrup so she’ll vomit too…
    Then MAYBE she’ll understand. ..

  • terri64
    4 years ago

    It needs to simulate a vertigo attack along with nausea and the visual auras all at once while you try to walk across a room. Like trying to walk on a ship during the worst imaginable hurricane.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago


  • Joanne
    4 years ago

    How can you simulate you head feeling like it is going to explode????? Maybe the worst brain freeze for anywhere from 2-12 hours?????

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    No kidding.

  • 23r1c5h
    4 years ago

    Where should I start?

    Complete aphasia – the one symptom that truly kills me every time it happens.

    Alice in Wonderland Syndrome – that can be done now but only the physical, need to have that rush of adrenaline and the sheer fear involved with it to get it right.

    Paralysis – doesn’t have to be entirely one side of the body like mine but definitely involve either the leg or arm.

    Brain malfunction – that’s what I call it when I can’t think straight and definitely add the Dead Zone – the area of the brain that’s holding that one word needed to make a coherent sentence – wait for it…..wait for it…..water!! I need a glass of WATER to take my…….wait for it……wait for it….

    I also think it’s not just the attack that needs to be simulated, I think it should be the full gambit of all four stages, need to feel as much as they can for as long as they can so they get the idea. Most won’t make it too far into the attack phase before they’re screaming Uncle.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    I am in agreement with all of this! Thanks for the feedback–you made me smile despite knowing how much agony we go through!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • mattiew
    4 years ago

    I always want to explain to people what my migraines feel like. But I don’t.
    The Excedrin ad piqued my interest but The headache depicted is nothing like my headaches. I saw your post and really wanted to comment. So much so, lol, I joined to respond.
    My migraines are always in the same spot. If you could take a midieval ax and slam it into my head, with gps precision point accuracy to the spot straight behind my left eye, equal distance down from the top of my head, that would describe the pain of the migraine. Truly bad migraines have me in tears, the anxiety level from the pain has me moaning for it to stop. And that’s just the painful part. There is the hangover the next day, where the mind is mush, computing anything is impossible. Sometimes I can’t put two words together to make sense, other times I have verbal diarrhea and embarrass myself with TMI.
    My migraines used to be hormonal, then hormonal and weather driven. Then stress could cause them. Now even smells can trigger them. I’m not hormonal anymore, and they’ve changed, become more aggressive, lasting days on end. I take a prescription for them, am getting better about treating them at the first signs, but there’s always the inner battle of denial, will it really bloom into one, or can I manage for now to see if it will go away on its own. Even after thirty years of migraines, I still have this internal struggle of accepting them!
    And if I hear another person with helpful advice….
    I have accepted that it is what it is, I know what works, what doesn’t. My neurologist and I are working our way through preventative meds, but the side effects are no Bueno. I still have hope that they will disappear with menopause, but my fear is that ship has sailed.
    The best thing for me was finding sites like this, and reading the stories of others who suffer migraines. No one really understands unless you get them.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago


    A belated thank you for your thoughtful response. I hope you do find some comfort by being a part of this community–it means so much to have friends (even virtual ones) who get it.

    My fingers are crossed for you–I hope you can find some treatment plans that help reduce your migraine frequency and severity.

    Thinking of you,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Daniel Blessed ByGod
    4 years ago

    Really, a video ? No, I don’t live in a cave although sometimes I wish I did. The light bothers me so much. Anyway back to the matter at hand. I am now on a mission to find this video. If I had a millionth of a percent.. of a cent for every time I have told my wife I wish I could just project my migraine on some of the doctors that I try to explain my symptoms too. Some of the doctors give me that deer in the headlights look, you know the one where their upper lip lifts up in the corner and the eyebrow of the opposite eye does the same. If they could just feel the pounding of your head for hmmmm about 45 seconds I do believe they would try to HELP you and not just medicate you to death. I am new to this forum and would like to contribute more. I have been doing a lot of reading of other contributors and would like to add my own experiences in the hopes of helping others while along the way also helping myself. My name is Daniel. Please have a wonderful day. Oh my grammar is not that good so I apologize for any incorrect usage or spelling. Thank you… Daniel.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    4 years ago

    Welcome to our site Daniel! We too look forward to hearing more from you! Please always feel free to reach out. We are happy to have you as part of our community. Warmly, Joanna ( Team)

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